Author: Amanda

Teaching Scripture to Our Children

One of the reasons my husband and I came to Anglicanism is because of the reverence in the worship. The glad solemnity of our Anglican liturgy harmonized with our understanding of the Scriptures — humility and the “fear of the Lord”  as part of our response to the love and mercy of Christ. As we became parents, it was important to us to communicate that reverence and glad solemnity to our children. We felt it did a disservice to both Christianity and our children to dumb the faith down, but it can be confusing to have that conviction. So many of the books and products available for children are kitsch-y, cartoon-y, irreverent. I don’t really want my children associating Bible stories with talking vegetables… So, we have been very reticent. Going along with our church, we have invited our children into the fullness of our Christian practice. They attend the liturgy with us from the very beginning, learning the service music and hymns. We try to give them what we believe is the truly beautiful …

Christmas Hymns & Carols (2 per day)

As promised in the Advent Hymns and Carols post, I’ve also compiled a list of Christmas (and Epiphany) Hymns and Carols. It was much more difficult to decide upon these songs — there are so many favorites. So, as with the Advent post, please consider this a first draft, to be improved upon next year. And, as with the Advent post, please tell me if you find mistakes! My rationale was to pair one well known hymn or carol with another that is lesser known throughout Christmastide. My hope is that this list helps us celebrate all twelve days of Christmas (I’m always so thankful at our church, that we get to keep singing our Christmas music together on the First Sunday of Christmas). And, I decided to also throw in some hymns for Epiphany as well. Lastly, please note the lovely carolers by my dear artist friend Michelle Abernathy (you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.)  Wouldn’t her painting make the best Christmas cards? May the Lord bless our Christmastide festivities with His harmony …

Celebrating St. Lucy at Our House

Auntie Leila wisely counsels: “The Church has provided us with all we need and we don’t have to manufacture any feelings about it. Follow her lead in worship. That is, follow her in the celebration of the mysteries, the readings appointed for each day and each hour, and the prayers that gently and peacefully direct our gaze where it needs to be. Be attentive: Wisdom! Bring this objectivity into the home with simple, liturgy-related traditions (and yes, a few little crafts, perhaps, and I will touch on those later) that appeal to you and your husband. Keep things old-fashioned so that, paradoxically, they remain timeless and universal. Make your devotions few and meaningful to your time and place. (E.g. if you are Swedish, then go for the daring St. Lucy crown of lit candles on a toddling girl’s head this December 13, but if you are not, don’t worry about it too much.)” Well, part of my family is Swedish. When I was reading this, I thought to myself, I should ask my Swedish cousin how she celebrates St. …

Why We Love Christmas Music

In my Advent Hymns and Carols post, I suggested that one way to keep Advent is to save up the Christmas carols (as much as possible) until Christmastide. But, I do understand why someone would want to start listening to Christmas carols right after Halloween. I sympathize with all the Christmas music over-eagerness. It’s because Christmas music is made to last and it’s made to be shared. It’s because in modern America, Christmas music is really the only folk music tradition that we still treasure on a large scale. And that is our loss. Folk music is music that is passed down from generation to generation, music that is shared and interpreted, while still keeping a recognizable integrity. At Christmastime, instead of constant novelty in music, we delight in the familiarity of the old — “Silent Night,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Joy to the World,” “White Christmas.”  We enjoy hearing musicians interpret a song within a tradition, within a conversation — it’s just “new enough.” At Christmas, we share music with those who are completely …

Advent Hymns & Carols (One Per Day)

Six years ago, I was about to begin my first journey through the church year. It was a bit intimidating, because while I was an Anglican newbie, I was also also the parish music director and administrator (our background made this slightly less crazy — slightly). So, I was busy planning Advent hymnsings for our congregation — mostly because I needed to learn the hymns myself. But, despite being in over my head, it was such a joy to get to immerse myself in the great tradition of Advent hymnody. I think one of the most simple, yet powerful ways to keep Advent is to save up the traditional Christmas music for the twelve days. But, to do that, you really need Advent music to fill the gap– music that immerses you in the waiting, longing, and mystery of the season. These hymns have become some of my favorites of all the year. Most (but not all) of these hymns can be found in the standard hymnals (1940 or 1982). Because I’m not a complete …

Everything Tells Us About God

Back in February,  I received a gift copy of the book Everything Tells Us about God by Katherine Bolger Hyde, from Ancient Faith Publishing. I was so excited  to get it in the mail and open it with my little ones. And then, I was excited to review this children’s book, but several huge events (both good and bad) put a hold on all Homely Hours posts. But now that we are back, here, finally, is our review! Everything Tells Us About God opens with “the world is like a giant puzzle God made to tell us about Himself  the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Every piece whispers one of His secrets — all we need to do is listen.” The rest of the book moves through the “puzzle pieces” of creation, from sun to wind to water to bread to rocks and on and on through schools and games and families, to finally  “YOU. You have hands to serve God, a heart to love Him, lips to praise Him. . . God is talking to …

Advent Plans

This year, our family is going to take advantage of our Homely Hours preparation and posts from the last two years. Here is how that will look: Jesus Tree Ornament.  Bley designed these beautiful ornaments (pictured above) several years ago.  I printed them out last year in card stock, hole punched the top and added red yarn to hang on our Christmas tree. We’ll do this as part of our family’s little evening prayer time. Additionally, we’ll use our church’s Advent Wreath prayers at dinner time. St. Nicholas Day We may use Bley’s adorable St. Nicholas Day Treat Bags. We’ll see if I can get that together. But I do plan to buy my girls Christmas shoes and fill them with the traditional gifts: gold chocolate coins I snagged at Trader Joe’s, a candy cane, and a clementine. I’ll probably buy The Baker’s Dozen to read and, I’ll definitely print out Michelle’s Advent Saints Coloring Pages. St. Lucy In addition to those coloring pages, last year I printed out two copies of the St. Lucy Crown Printable. …

How to Survive Your Sunday Shrieker

 You sit in your pew as the priest begins, “Let us confess our sins unto Almighty God.” And behind you, a shriek, a “barbaric yawp” (as one parishioner described it) rips through the sanctuary. You say to yourself, “Lord, help us and deliver us.. And may I never have a Sunday Shrieker.” But they come to all parents, at the fullness of time, when the moment is  ripe for sanctification and shame. So, we’ve put together a guide on how to survive your Sunday Shrieker, giving you the essentials for how to identify and then react, when you encounter a Shrieker in the wild (i.e. in your own family). The Parrot No worries here — this is the imitation shriek. This is the baby’s drone as they seek to join the congregation chanting the Gloria. Everyone thinks it’s cute, so you can stay put, cheerfully (and pray that it doesn’t go downhill). The Bat This is a friendly and happy kind of shriek. Yes, it’s very high-pitched and may cause hearing loss if too close. …

Imagining Musical Culture

Music was a primary reason that we became Anglican. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on music for a series by Humane Pursuits. In this series, we’re addressing the ways that music shapes the soul and community and teaches us about the order of the world, as well as giving practical ways to build musical culture in the home, church, and wider community. Most of my thoughts on musical culture spring out of the influence of Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio. My husband and I were his interns in the summer of 2012 and we are always aware of the debt of gratitude we owe to him. He is a major reason that we became Anglican (and don’t dread church every week). The first two posts have been just published. Imagining a Musical Culture In Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder remembers her Pa playing his fiddle as she waited to fall asleep. She “was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were …

Counterpoint & Marriage

I sat in the concert hall next to the only empty seat. The Bach Trios, with Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer, had been sold out for months. The empty seat belonged to my husband. And, while I was listening alone to Bach, he was listening to the screams of our 9 month old as he drove around and waited for her to fall asleep. To explain how this happened would require too much background. But there really was no other way. In the weeks before the concert, my husband had started a great new job. And, while I was so thankful, I was also envious, comparing his new work environment with my limitations. Every toddler meltdown and baby night waking made me more frustrated. Knowing me, my husband saw I needed time to attend to beauty; and so, I ended up at the concert of a lifetime, with the music that my husband and I intensely love together, all by myself. And, that night, was an epiphany in sound. I remembered what I …